Which way?

Posted: January 6, 2011 in January 2011

Every single day of my life, I need direction.

In a global-satellite-positioning-crazed culture, it is much more than convenient to punch in a destination, wait for the calculation and then set off on a zombie-like ritual transporting ourselves from point A to point B.  It is downright lazy and mind-numbing to not have to think about directions.  Sure, it is a static truth that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line but that straight line is the non-challenging, much less scenic and sometimes less rewarding and fulfilling route.  We miss the out-of-the-way places populated with life’s interesting characters, unlikely treasures and rich scenery.  Would a preprogrammed GPS would have taken Jesus through Samaria on his way from Judea to Galilee?  (But then again, most of us, unlike Christ, don’t want to encounter “the Samaritans”).

I grew up in a world of static truths and straight lines.  The GPS calculations were preprogrammed and passed down with a good dose of piety mixed with equal parts guilt and sincerity.    Anyone who honestly questioned the presuppositional doctrinal grid with its ready-made answers was considered an unlearned sinner, and anyone who veered from the predetermined path was surely doomed for hell.  I had questions, real questions, honest questions, but I could not verbalize them, it would have been heresy.   So instead I “got saved” almost every Sunday night.   (Not because I wanted to be a Christ-follower, but because I wanted to avoid going to hell.)

Black and white directions are easier to deal with.  They are simpler and less challenging.  And I get it.  There were (and are) lots of people in my life, my parents included, who only wanted (and want) the absolute best for me in this existence and the next.  For them, the shortest distance from where I am (point A) to “what’s best for me” (point B) is a clearly defined set of preprogrammed calculations.  (and here’s the big question) But what if the calculations are wrong?  Let me rephrase the question.  What if the destination is accurate, but the directions incorrect?

Let me be more specific.  What if the length of your hair has nothing at all to do with where you will spend eternity?  What if wine in moderation really is good for the body and has no connection to salvation or damnation?  What if we speak of the “dear old Saint of God” who had a child out of wedlock?  (Isn’t her actions throughout the life of that child more important than the manner in which the child was conceived?)   What if we stop trying to make God in our own image and start letting her make us in her own image?  What if in our hurry to get to the Promised Land (taking the shortest route) we miss the wonder and richness of the streams in the desert?  What if by excluding those who are not like us (in thought, complexion and deed) from our Sunday Morning sequestered groups, we miss the beauty and richness of humanity?  Are not we all created in God’s image?  Better yet, what if we started loving our neighbor as ourselves and allowing grace to manifest itself in our lives and not just in the words of our songs?  What if the Lord’s prayer really is the prayer we should pray?  What if His Kingdom does come?  What will it look like and how can we participate in it?

Every single day of my life, I need direction.  Sometimes the direction leads to inconsequential destinations, places of no importance.   But more times than not, the results of my navigating daily decisions carries mega-ramifications.  I find myself in situations that carry eternal consequences.  So, what if the best route is not the shortest, the clearest or the safest route?  What if the questions, the real honest and hard ones, become the navigational tools that help us discover God’s design and purpose for our human existence and provide the path into the next life?

I am a fan of questions and love people who dare to ask them.  Here is one of my favorite questions posed by Shane Claiborne in his you-can-never-be-the-same-after-you-read-it-book, Irresistible Revolution:   “What do we do when the foolishness of the cross actually makes more sense than the wisdom of the world?  What if a fragile world is more attracted to God’s vision of interdependence and sacrificial sharing than to the mirage of independence and materialism?  What do we do when we are the ones who have gone sane in a crazy world?”

You are invited to join in the conversation.

This is a call to consider the journey as well as the destination; wrestle with the directions and experience the scenery.  This is a call to do more than just key in the destination and take off on a numbing ride.  Regardless of our discoveries, it is our life together in community, as messy and as icky as that may be, that will strengthen the journey, ease our anxiety and allow us to exhibit and experience God’s grace.  Incidentally,  I don’t think we can be saved by ourselves.  We do not journey alone.  It is in community that we will find our way.

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